World Rugby u20 Championship Semi-finalists confirmed

World Rugby u20 Championship Semi-finalists confirmed

France booked their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship 2024 semi-finals with a hard-fought 29-11 victory against Wales in difficult conditions at Athlone Sports Stadium on Tuesday.

The result, secured with a bonus point, took Les Bleuets to 11 points and meant they were guaranteed to qualify from Pool A even before New Zealand secured a 45-13 win against Spain, in a match that was called off at half-time. New Zealand head into the semi-finals as Pool A winners, while France will join them as the best runners-up.

Due to heavy rainfall in the Cape Town region on Tuesday, the pitch at Athlone Stadium had been assessed in partnership with organisers and match officials and declared not safe to play ahead of the first match scheduled at the venue between Ireland and Australia.

Both teams have been awarded two competition points, meaning the Irish progress to the semi-finals as Pool B winners.

England complete the semi-final line-up after they mastered the tough conditions in Cape Town to secure a 17-12 victory against South Africa with a try in the final play. Mark Mapletoft's side finished top of Pool C.

Earlier, Argentina briefly maintained their own slim hopes of making the semi-finals with a 52-12 defeat of Fiji, while Georgia sealed their first win of the tournament, beating Italy 28-17.


Both teams knew that victory – in France’s case with a bonus point – would secure their place in the semi-finals and so no quarter was given by either amid difficult conditions.

Wales started the match with the wind at their backs and opened the scoring in the fourth minute as fly-half Harri Ford slotted a simple penalty.

Three-time defending champions France hit back within four minutes, however, as winger Hoani Bosmorin finished off in the left corner after Les Bleuets’ forwards tied up the Welsh defence in midfield and Hugo Reus spun the ball wide.

Reus curled in an impressive touchline conversion before Ford struck the upright with a penalty attempt in the 12th minute.

Although much of the match was being played between the two 22s, France looked the more dangerous and thought they had scored at the beginning of the second quarter, only for the TMO to spot an earlier forward pass.

Ford narrowed the Welsh deficit to a single point with a second successful penalty in the 27th minute but two French tries before half-time put Les Bleuets firmly in control at Athlone Sports Stadium.

Some more hard carrying from those in blue laid the foundations for hooker Thomas Lacombre to go over before Bosmorin scored his second try of the match following a brilliant break from full-back Mathis Ferte.

Wales desperately needed to score next but their hopes of doing so suffered a huge setback less than four minutes after the restart when hooker Isaac Young was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle.

France capitalised immediately as number eight Mathis Castro Ferreira powered over from close range after Wales had repelled the initial lineout drive.

To their credit, the Welsh defence stood firm for the rest of their 10 minutes with 14 players. But the strength of the wind in their face meant they were pinned inside their 22 for much of the next quarter.

When they finally managed to get into the French half, Wales enjoyed their best spell of pressure but captain Ryan Woodman was held up as he was powered over the try line.

Wales did not have to wait long for a try, though, as Morgan Morse went over from close range.

Kicking into a strong wind, Harri Wilde missed the conversion and with their place in the semi-finals long assured, France returned to their opponents’ 22 for the remaining nine minutes, extending their lead with an Axel Desperes-Rigou penalty.


New Zealand showed immense skill in the rain to qualify for the semi-finals despite their match against Spain being abandoned at half-time.

With New Zealand needing only a single matchday point to reach the semi-finals, they started at a blistering pace, putting all sorts of pressure on Spain.

After several minutes of possession, they eventually found space in the wide channels, scrum-half Cooper Grant crashing over for the early try while the heavens opened up as it began pouring with rain.

New Zealand were on a mission, and when the captain Xavier Tito-Harris went within inches of the line after a great break from a lineout, try number two wasn't far away. 

Moments later, it followed as they recycled the ball with prop Joshua Smith powering over from close range.

Gonzalo Otamendi then made history when he slotted a penalty to become the first Spanish player at any level to score against New Zealand.

New Zealand responded straight away, though, as they used their set piece to power into the Spanish 22 before spreading the ball wide with Mosese Bason sliding over.

The rain was somehow getting heavier, but this did not stop New Zealand as they looked to break from inside their own half, with full-back Manumua Letiu showing brilliant skill to stride down the wing into the Spanish half before linking up with Tom Allen, who scored the bonus-point and semi-final clinching try.

Spain created more history again when Victor Ofojetu dived on a loose ball as New Zealand full-back Isaac Hutchinson dropped a Spanish touch finder, with the Spanish flanker reacting quickest to score a famous try.

This only aggravated New Zealand as they responded with their fifth try of the match, this time using their scrum to win a penalty and kick into the 22 before their driving maul game proved too strong as they powered their way over the line with hooker A-One Lolofie.

Spain tried to work their way back into the game, but with the weather and pitch full of rain, their opponents easily defended the Spanish attacks before showing their wet weather skills to score another try with flanker Mosese Bacon sliding over from close range.

The final act of the half and, due to the rain, the game, saw New Zealand crash over for their seventh try as they showed immense skill and patience in the rain before Frank Vaenuku scored.


Georgia claimed their first win of the U20 Championship as they edged Italy in tough conditions.

With rain lashing down, scoring chances were at a premium at Danie Craven Stadium, but after holding the lion's share of possession in the opening 10 minutes, Italy were the first to score.

Some strong work around the fringes from the Azzurrini opened up space in the wide channels, which they exploited using some interplay in the backs as centre Nicola Bozzo's delayed pass sent Mirko Belloni through a hole to score the match's first points.

Georgia looked to respond straight away, and the Azzurrini were soon down to 14, with lock Samuele Mirenzi sent to the bin for a tip tackle on hooker Mikheil Khakhubia. 

The Junior Lelos instantly took advantage of their man advantage and drove their way over with a powerful maul as Khakhubia scored their first points in the encounter.

After a stop-start next few minutes, the Georgians looked to have scored the second try of the match as Luka Tsirekidze blocked scrum-half Casilio's kick before racing towards the Italian line but was caught by opposite number Simone Brisghella with a only a few blades of grass away from the line.

The Junior Lelos were not to be denied moments later, though, as Georgia turned the screw driving home from a resulting maul, with the referee awarding a penalty try while simultaneously sending Luca Bellucci to the bin.

Italy immediately responded with a penalty as an offside kick chase from Georgia gave Brisighella the simplest of chances, which he did not miss.

After a scrappy start to the second half in the heavy conditions, Georgia were the first to launch a major attack in the second half, with the Azzurrini made to pay for the poor discipline as fly-half Brisighella was given a yellow card for slowing the game down.

After several chances went begging, Georgia used the backs and scored a crucial third try, with Giorgi Khaindrava breaking past tackles to score under the sticks.

The Azzurrini then dominated a couple of scrums allowing them to make a rare visit inside the Georgian 22; from here, they drove their way over using their maul, with hooker Nicholas Gasperini breaking off to collect the try. 

Italian hopes of a comeback win were soon ended, though, as poor discipline from the kick-off gave Georgia another shot inside the 22, which they converted with ease as replacement scrum-half Mikheil Kachlavashvili broke away for the Junior Lelos' bonus-point score, extending their lead for a final time to 28-17.


Argentina boosted their hopes of a semi-final berth with a dominant 52-12 over Fiji.

With running rugby conditions limited, Argentina opted for the kicking game to get them into the game as full-back Benjamin Elizalde collected a 50-22.

From there, Los Pumitas went to one of their strengths, the driving maul, which proved too strong for Fiji as Argentina scored their first points of the match with hooker Juan Manuel Vivas dotting down over the soggy try line. Fly-half Facundo Rodriguez added the extras on his first appearance of the tournament. 

Despite the heavy pitch, Argentina showed some of their attacking intent as they collected a second try before the 10-minute mark. A brilliant solo break from scrum-half Genaro Podesta saw him weave past the Fijian defenders before his pass found Felipe Ledesma, who slid into the corner.

Fiji's job was made tougher on 14 minutes when winger Aisea Nawai looked for an intercept that wasn't there and was given a yellow card by referee Sam Grove-White for a deliberate knock-on. 

Los Pumitas' forwards were proving far too much for the inexperienced Fijian pack as they set up another maul inside the 22 before breaking away and freeing the backline, with winger Ledesma scoring his brace.

The Fijian flair struggled to emerge for much of the opening half, but as the game broke up, the Pacific Islanders found their groove.

A neat chip into the 22 from winger Waisake Salabiua was ended illegally by Los Pumitas scrum-half Podesta, and suddenly Argentina were down to 14. 

Fiji looked to have made the best start to the yellow card period as hooker Moses Armstrong-Ravuila crossed the line, but the try was chalked off for crossing, with flanker Ebernezer Tuidraki stopping any potential tackle.

After a slow start to proceedings, the Fijians were flying, but despite playing the final 10 minutes of the half in the Argentina 22, it took until the final play of the opening 40 minutes for them to score their first points as Ponipate Tuberi dived over with Isikeli Basiyalo converting.

The second half started just as the first had, with Argentina showing serious power in the pack. A scrum penalty on halfway was kicked into the Fijian half before they delivered another breathtaking maul driving from 25 metres, with replacement hooker Juan Greising Revol scoring the crucial bonus point. 

Argentina's power was again causing Fiji all sorts of problems, and their penalty count continued to rise as the South Americans camped themselves in the Fiji half.

Another onslaught from Los Pumitas ended in a try for Podesta, while Fiji also lost Tuidraki to the bin for an offside tackle.

With Argentina's scrum showing continuous dominance, they were soon rewarded with a penalty try. 

Argentina then added try number seven with another driving maul splintering the Fijian defence with Greising Revol again scoring as Los Pumitas looked to rack up the points as they hunted for a potential semi-final spot.

With the game entering the final 10 minutes, winger Nawai showed some typical Fijian spirit with a well-taken solo try. 

Los Pumitas ended the game in suitable fashion with another powerful driving maul with Juan Pedro Bernasconi dotting down for their eighth and final try, while Fiji saw their third yellow as replacement flanker Sakenasa Nalasi was sent to the bin. 


Hosts South Africa needed a bonus-point victory to put themselves in contention for a place in the semi-finals and they started with the wind at their backs.

That paid off within seven minutes as a sustained period of pressure from the Junior Springboks ended in a try for captain Zach Porthen.

Fly-half Liam Koen converted from bang in front, but the home side were unable to maintain that dominance as England began to grow into the match.

Early in the second quarter, England elected to kick a penalty to the corner rather than for posts, but fly-half Benjamin Coen nudged the ball the wrong side of the corner flag and South Africa were able to alleviate the pressure.

It was only a brief respite though as England returned to the South African 22 and after Henry Pollock had taken his team up to the try line, his back-row colleague Nathan Michelow snuck over in the 27th minute.

Sean Kerr added the extras to level the scores at 7-7 and that is how it remained at half-time, although it was England who ended into the break in the ascendancy.

The Junior Springboks having stood firm to repel an English lineout with less than five minutes of the half remaining.

South Africa were unable to repeat the trick four minutes into the second half as Joe Bailey came up with the ball and the try following a powerful driving maul.

Coen missed the conversion, and the hosts soon found a way back into the game, albeit against the run of play, as winger Likhona Finca made use of his footballing skills.

An initial grubber kick through looked harmless enough before an English boot inadvertently sent the ball into Finca’s path. He showed good composure to kick the ball on himself and then dot down.

Koen missed the conversion to leave the scores tied at 12-12 but although there was still the bulk of half an hour to play, opportunities were at a premium in the increasingly challenging conditions.

With 60 minutes on the clock, England centre Ben Waghorn almost profited from the footwork of Alex Wills but he could not gather the winger’s hack ahead under pressure from Bathobele Hlekani.

If he had it would almost certainly have resulted in a try. As it was, England played the conditions well and were rewarded with a third try in the final play of the match as James Isaacs scored at the back of another driving maul after the hosts lost Divan Fuller to the sin bin.

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